News began bubbling yesterday via the Twitter feed of well-informed game developer/frequent employment death knell-sounder George Broussard that publisher Sony Online was cutting a significant chunk of its development staff. That news was sadly confirmed today with SOE's announcement that 205 positions would be terminated across three studios in Seattle, Denver and Tucson. All of those studios are now shuttered, as a result.
Of the projects formerly being worked on by these teams, the frequently delayed MMO spy thriller The Agency proved to be the biggest casualty. Initially announced back in 2007, The Agency made repeated smoke signals regarding continued existence via screenshots and occasional previews, but the game never seemed to get a firm grip on anything resembling a release date. Its cancellation certainly comes as little shock, though is no less tragic, given the hefty number of people now out of work.
In the official statement, as it originally appeared on Game Informer (and appears in its entirety below), Sony cites the need to focus on key upcoming titles in established franchises such as EverQuest and PlanetSide. SOE also states that current MMO projects, such as EverQuest II and DC Universe Online are unaffected by these cuts.
As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios. As part of this restructuring, SOE is discontinuing production of The Agency so it can focus development resources on delivering two new MMOs based on its renowned PlanetSide and EverQuest properties, while also maintaining its current portfolio of online games. All possible steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern.
This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE’s current portfolio of live games; additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios’ suite of products to its San Diego headquarters. This strategic alignment of development resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online gaming and deliver on its promise of creating entertaining games for players of all ages, and servicing the 20 million players that visited SOE servers in just the past year.